HBA-SEB H.B. 2441 76(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2441 By: Goodman Juvenile Justice and Family Issues 7/9/1999 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Courts have the authority to order parties in a suit for dissolution of a marriage to participate in parenting courses if the parties have children. H.B. 2441 authorizes a court, in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, to order parties to such a suit to take a parent education and family stabilization course if the court determines that the order is in the child's best interests. It sets forth the contents for the course and designates who may offer the course. This bill also authorizes the court to prohibit spouses from taking the course together if the marriage has a history of family violence. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 105, Family Code, by adding Section105.009, as follows: Sec.105.009. PARENT EDUCATION AND FAMILY STABILIZATION COURSE. (a) Authorizes a court to order parties to a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to attend a parent education and family stabilization course (course) if the court determines that the order is in the child's best interest. Authorizes the court to order the parties to an action to modify an order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship providing for possession of or access to a child. (b) Prohibits the parties from being required to attend the course together. Authorizes the court, on its own motion or the motion of either party, to prohibit the parties from taking the course together if there is a history of family violence in the marriage. (c) Provides that a course must be between four and 12 hours in length and be designed to educate and assist parents with regard to the consequences of divorce on a family. Sets forth the information that must be included in the course. (d) Prohibits a course from being designed to provide individual mental therapy or individual legal advice. (e) Provides that a course satisfies the requirements of this section if it is offered by a mental health professional who has at least a master's degree with a background in family therapy or parent education or a religious practitioner who performs counseling consistent with the laws of this state, another person designated as a program counselor by a church or religious institution. (f) Prohibits information obtained in a course or a statement made by a participant to a suit during the course from being considered in the adjudication of the suit or in any subsequent legal proceeding. Prohibits any report that comes out of participation in the course from becoming a record in the suit unless the parties stipulate to the record in writing. (g) Authorizes a court to take appropriate action with regard to a party who fails to attend or complete a required course. Prohibits the failure or refusal by a party to attend or complete a required course from delaying the court from rendering a judgment in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. (h) Authorizes a course to be completed by personal instruction, videotape instruction, instruction through an electronic medium, or a combination of those methods. (i) Requires a course provider to issue a certification of completion of the course to each participant upon completion. Sets forth the contents of the certificate. (j) Authorizes the county clerk in each county to establish a registry of course providers in the county and a list of locations where the courses are provided. Requires the clerk to identify courses in the registry that are offered on a sliding fee scale or without charge. (k) Prohibits the court from ordering the parties to attend a course if the parties cannot afford to take the course. Authorizes the court to direct the parties to take a course that is offered on a sliding fee scale or without charge if the parties cannot afford the course and if a course of that type is available. Prohibits a party from being required to pay more than $100 to attend a course. (l) Prohibits a person who has attended a course from being required to attend the course more than twice before the fifth anniversary of the date the person completes the course for the first time. SECTION 2. Amends Section 157.211, Family Code, to authorize the terms and conditions of community supervision to include the obtainment of counseling on conflict resolution and parenting skills. SECTION 3. Effective date: September 1, 1999. Makes application of this Act prospective. SECTION 4. Emergency clause.